The dreaded knock


When covering a story, it is almost always necessary for a reporter to conduct interviews. These interviews are for experts, witnesses or any other person involved. It doesn’t take much, since most people like to talk and relate their knowledge or experiences. And for the reporter, he or she gets to meet people, gain insight, and learn new things.

But what happens when the story involves a mass shooting? And the people you have to interview are the friends and families of the victims?

In light of the recent Washington Navy Yard shooting, this issue comes to the surface.

I came across an article in the Huffington Post aptly named “The Worst Work of Journalism.” It delves into this topic, and explains how uncomfortable and devastating it is to be sent to cover stories of mass shootings and murder, charged with the task of interviewing the loved ones left behind the disasters.

In the article, its author Brian Rooney explains how as a journalist, he has had the unfortunate job of having to interview the family and friends of people who have passed.

He explains that when the injustice of murder occurs, the victims must be humanized. They must have faces, histories, voices and people who loved them in order for others to truly see the horror of a taken life.

This requires the miserable task of getting information from the loved ones of the victims. No reporter wants to be sent to cover a story where they’ll have to knock on the victim’s door, that dreaded knock.

Rooney describes the people who are open and friendly and give a lot of information. He recounts the story of a time he interviewed the boyfriend of a girl who had just been shot in the head by an ex-paramour. The boyfriend spoke of his girlfriend affectionately as he cleaned her brains out of a cookie jar.

Rooney also describes the people who don’t want to talk at all, and the dilemma of being told by your boss you must get the interview even after repeated declines.

Every reporter, like Rooney says, hopes that when they knock on the doors of the families ¬†and stand outside the church services that it’ll be the last time. That society will see how horrible these massacres are. That things will change. All we can do is hope for no more dreaded knocks.

To read the full article, visit:



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